“my kind of food pyramid”
If you know me at all you’ve probably clicked this link because of the sheer irony of the post. Of all the people in the world who could be giving nutritional advice or even suggesting health tips…you’re going to listen to the guy who hates working out and loves taco bell?
“Mmm, sweet Doritos Los Tacos goodness”
Hear me out.
There seems to be a lot of advice out there about heath. Especially what to eat and what not to eat. Whole 30, paleo, raw food, atkins, and 100 other diets all telling you different things. It’s confusing and frankly sometimes kind of ridiculous. Eating healthy is a process, not just some quick fix diet. And as I have recently determined that eating healthy is probably a good thing, I’ve taken this whole “eating healthy” problem head on.
“But have you tried the Whole PaleAtkins Diet?”
Now I’m the type of person who looks at problems and tries to find the easiest way to solve them. Eating healthy is something that I dread. I love food and I love indulging myself in unhealthy behaviors. So instead of just stopping eating all things delicious, I’ve found some ways that can help start moving me towards that direction. One day, I’m sure I won’t even crave Taco Bell. But in order to get there I know I need to take baby steps. Over the last few months these are some of the ways I’ve been able to slowly change some of those bad habits and move towards a healthier lifestyle.
“I think her face tells you everything you need to know about this situation”
These are 10 easy changes you can make that will make eating healthy a little less unbearable:
1. Upgrade your snacks
“This might actually be the most delicious thing I’ve ever seen”
Snacking is one of my favorite past times. But unfortunately snacking is one of those quick ways buying a bigger belt. Usually that’s the case because what we’re snacking on is often the worst stuff that there is. As much as I wish that Cheeze-Its had a lick of nutritional value, they don’t and never will. But snacking doesn’t have to be so dismal. A quick snack upgrade can allow you to keep up this wonderful past time. Yes, you’ll have to stop buying Oreos, but there are plenty tasty snacks that you can replace them with. Try swapping out regular popcorn with Skinny Pop. Exchange Goldfish for Cheddar Bunnies, and remember that sliced cucumbers and baby carrots can go a long way to satisfy that snacking urge. Fixing your snack game is a great way to start.
2. Salt for Sugar
“Pretzels > Skittles”
Now I can’t claim to be any sort of nutritionist, but it seems like if there was a general consensus among them it would be that on the whole, sugar is something that should be avoided. Especially added sugar. But sometimes we just get that urge. That sweet tooth has a way of taking over. But the next time you go to the vending machine or the pantry late at night try grabbing a salty snack instead of a sugary one. It might be the lesser of two evils but it’s quite a bit less evil. Trust me, you’ll be glad you cut the sugar out.
3. Better Milk
“Does anyone actually drink milk like this?”
I love cereal. And for that matter I love milk. It’s a real shame that milk isn’t really what it’s cracked up to be. The more I read about milk the more I find out all the negatives about it. That it causes acne (something I can attest to first hand) that it doesn’t really provide strong bones, and that overall its just ‘meh’ for you. I thought i’d never be the one who could switch to an alternative but amazingly I have. Almond milk is the real deal. Lots more calcium and no real negative health benefits. You can also buy a box of it and leave it in the pantry until you need it. Which is great because expiration dates are the worst. Anyway, try giving a different kind of milk a shot. Coconut, soy, almond, or whatever else your resident health nut recommends.
4. Reasonable Soda Switch
“I promise I’m not getting paid for endorsements”
The only thing I love more than Taco Bell is Dr. Pepper. Really I love most soda, but Dr. Pepper is the soda nectar of the Gods. And you can imagine how hard it was for me to quit soda all together. It wasn’t easy, but it just needed to be done. I had to find something I could replace it with and I knew I couldn’t just go from Mtn. Dew to fountain water. You’ll never make that switch last. If you’re going to drop soda you need to find something you can reasonably switch to that still gives you the sensation of that fix. For my brother it was carbonated water. For me it was Powerade zero. No sugar, but oh so delicious. And you can get little drops you can put in water which is very handy. I still give myself one or two cheat drinks a month. On special occasions – but I really have felt a difference cutting that out of my day to day.
5. Stop when you’re full
“Especially when it comes to Dominos Bread Bowls”
If you grew up on a farm or with a large family you usually got used to eating everything on your plate. It’s just what you do. You can’t stand wasting all of that food. Well I’m here to tell you that you need to get over it. The food has already been wasted whether you eat it or not. There is a point in which you eat to be full. At that point you are getting the nutrients out of the food and the food is fulfilling its purpose. But when you continue stuffing your face after the fact because you don’t want to “waste” it, all you are doing is over eating and counteracting what the food is intended to do. So in a way you are actually wasting it more. Especially considering that you could save it and eat it later when you got hungry again (perhaps as an upgraded snack). This might take some time to get into the habit of, but walking away from a meal when you are satisfied is one of the..well…most satisfying feelings.
6. Drink instead of snack
“I prefer a $4 bottle of Fugi water myself”
Again this is just to try and help counteract the bad habit that is incessantly snacking. Often times we don’t snack because we are really hungry, we do it because we are bored. But I found that if you can change eating something for drinking something you will do yourself loads of favors. You won’t be bored anymore, and you won’t be eating a bag of Doritos. One great drink that is my go-to is Simply Orange Juice. I literally drink like a bottle a week now with zero regrets. Eventually you’ll probably be able to have enough self control to just stop snacking all together, but this is a good stepping stone.
7. Dipping Dressing
“When I dip, you dip, we dip, amirite?”
This is a simple trick I learned from my wife. Salads can be a great, healthy thing to eat up until we dump horrible dressing all over them and essentially negate all health benefits from it. One really easy way to trim down on that is to always order dressing on the side and then dip your fork into the dressing one bite at a time. You will still get the dressing flavor with every bite, but you’ll find that you end up eating 1/5 the amount of dressing that would normally be on there. It’s a pretty small fix, but all of these kinds of small fixes add up to bigger results.
8. Try skipping breakfast
“Now this is some amazing clip-art”
Ok now I know that I was bagging on trendy health trends but this is one that actually made sense to me. There’s a long drawn out version with lots of reasons but the short version is that fat is meant to give us energy and that when we sleep our cortisone levels drop pretty dramatically (cortisone is what protects fat) and our HGH levels jump up (HGH helps burn fat). This is because your muscles are repairing. So when we wake up we are the ideal fat burning machine with our fat having no cortisone protection and our HGH high and burning. But what do we do? we waste it on a bagel and eggs. Cavemen woke up without food. They used the fat on their bodies to give them energy hunt. We just happen to live in an age of abundance and have the luxury of eating however much we want whenever we want. I realize that this could be debated from other heath people, but skipping breakfast has been an awesome way for me to shed some lbs.
9. Force yourself into physical actives
“I actually didn’t notice until just now that this dude has a prosthetic leg…”
While a big part of losing weight is diet, the other big part is exercise. Now exercise is tough. It’s so hard that people have made professions and careers out of just motivating people to work out. But you don’t have to be a gym rat to burn a good amount of calories to loose weight. Simple things like taking the stairs and parking far away are great ways to burn extra calories. Sign yourself up for a softball team or a low-level soccer team. You won’t be running all the time – but you’ll be active, and the more baby steps you can take to make being active a habit the better.
10. Use technology
“It’s morphin time.”
The health trend is alive and well in the technology sector. There are awesome tools at your disposal that can really help you eat healthier and be more active. Things like the ‘Fooducate’ app, which allows you to scan barcodes of food and gives you an A-D rating of them. Its a little thing but now I try to go for A and B food instead of D and C foods. This is especially helpful when deciding between two products selling the same thing. I thought I was picking the healthier of two yogurts but the other had the better grade. Another awesome tool is a health tracker like a Fitbit. The first step to solving any problem is usually awareness and a fitness tracker makes you very aware. How many steps, your heart rate, it will even buzz when you’ve been sitting around doing nothing for too long. Believe it or not but when you start to use these things you’ll start to care about those things. You’ll look for ways to increase your step count in the day. Technology in the health sector has never been better.
Bonus: Schedule a late physical
Ok this one is kinda ridiculous, but when you get a physical you have to fast until your blood is drawn. You will find it is a lot easier to fast because your doctor tells you instead of you just wanting to. Fasting is a great way to clean out your body and, of course, when you’re not eating – you’re not gaining weight. So schedule a doctors appointment for 4:30 pm and Bam! two meals skipped!
“this, my friends, could be you in 50 years”
Now I can’t stress this enough. I’m no health guru. I’m not an expert, I’m just a regular guy trying to look a little better with my shirt off. But I will say this, I do find myself having more energy, sleeping better, and otherwise more self control when it comes to eating. It’s easier for me to go to the gym because I’m not so lethargic all the time. It’s easier for me to eat out less and when I do eat out to not eat as much. I’ve gotten to the point where my metabolism isn’t what it used to be and I’ve still been able to maintain about the same weight for the past few years. I can only attribute this to some of these healthier moves I’ve been making over the last 6 months or so (and mostly my amazing wife who motivates me and keeps me eating right).
Just like anything else worthwhile in life, the best things usually require the most amount of work. It might be rough getting back into an active and healthy lifestyle but your future self will be glad you sacrificed now instead of waiting until it was too late.